As we’re approaching Super Bowl XLIX, lots of offseason talk has already begun for many fans. After all, most of our favorite teams are already in the offseason (unless you happened to catch the Patriots’ and Seahawks’ bandwagons before they headed off to Glendale).
Those that aren’t thinking about the offseason are probably still talking about the whole deflate-gate debacle – we’re not going there in this piece (you’re welcome).
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Well, I’m here to answer that question for you. Yes, he is.
Don’t believe me? That’s okay, we’ll just look at some career stats. You know what they say, numbers never lie.
As you may have heard, Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck are the gold standard of young quarterbacks these days. They’re both constantly being compared to one another and every other quarterback drafted within the last three to four years gets compared to them.
Since that’s the case, let’s look at Newton’s career stats (via NFL.com) compared to Luck’s and Wilson’s.
Since Newton entered the NFL a year earlier, I divided career regular season stats by number of games played in order to give us a per-game figure that can be fairly compared. The results were very interesting.
In Luck’s career, he averages 289 passing yards per game, two touchdown passes, and one turnover per contest. Wilson averages 247 passing yards, two touchdown passes, and one turnover per outing.
Since many don’t consider Newton to even be a franchise quarterback, his numbers shouldn’t even be close, right? Wrong.
Newton averages 275 yards through the air, two scores and one turnover per game. If you didn’t notice, those stats are right there with the consensus top quarterbacks in the league.
Now, one could argue that yardage doesn’t take efficiency into consideration. That’s a fair point, so let’s look at those numbers as well.
Luck has a career completion percentage of 58.6 percent on 37.8 pass attempts per game with a quarterback rating of 86.6. Wilson’s career totals 63.4 percent and a 98.6 quarterback rating, but on only 26.1 attempts per game.
Surely Newton, someone who lacks the basic mechanics of a quarterback, wouldn’t be anywhere near Luck and Wilson in this department, right? Wrong again.
Newton’s career completion percentage is 59.5 percent on 31 pass attempts per game and an 85.4 career quarterback ranking. Again, these statistics are right on pace with the cream of the crop.
Let’s not forget, a season of Newton’s stats came in a year in which he dealt with offseason ankle surgery, cracked ribs, a sprained thumb, a horrific car crash, and an inexperienced offensive line (third-fewest combined starts in the league).
Most people by now would likely bring up the number of wins each player has had. The funny thing was, though, when I was looking at player career stats, career wins wasn’t a category. That’s because wins are not a quarterback-specific statistic.
I’m not sure about you, but the last time I watched a football game, any time a quarterback was on the field there were ten other people out there wearing the same uniform.
When a game is over, it isn’t just the quarterback that’s considered the winner, it’s the entire team. So how come when we go back and look at stats, quarterbacks are given sole credit by keeping track of the games they’ve “won?” I could go on about this for a while, but I’ll save that discussion for another day.
No matter how anyone tries to spin it, the reason Newton isn’t unanimously considered a franchise quarterback is not because of statistics. He stacks stock up with the rest of the guys, and it isn’t because of wins. He’s helped lead the Panthers to the playoffs two of his four seasons and was a major part of the first ever repeat NFC South champions.
The real reason Cam Newton isn’t considered a franchise quarterback is because of perspective.
Think about it, when Luck was entering the NFL, he was Stanford’s golden boy and would fill the shoes of the great and respected Peyton Manning. Wilson was the underdog that always wanted to praise everyone around him first.
Newton? He was “Scam” Newton, the money-taking, laptop-stealing thug that had to make it in junior college first. His entire career, he’s been criticized for everything – how he acts on the sideline, what he wears to the press conference, pouting too much, smiling too much, etc. Absolutely everything.
He was painted as a villain before he even stepped foot on an NFL field and as a result, a negative shadow has been cast on everything he does or doesn’t do.
Look, I’m not saying Newton is the best quarterback in the league; I’m not even saying he’s better than Luck or Wilson. He certainly has a lot of things to work on and improve this offseason in order to be elite. I’m also not trying to make excuses, and honestly, I don’t have to – the numbers are right there. Like I said earlier, numbers never lie.
What I am saying is that Newton is absolutely a franchise quarterback and deserves far more praise and respect than he receives.